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August 14, 2007

Success! My letter to Comcast

 

Just because I think plastic bags should be re-used multiple times doesn’t mean I want new ones literally showing up on my doorknob, but that’s just what happened a few days ago. I came home to find this advertising piece from Comcast hanging there in a plastic bag. Talk about instant irritation! “Holy crap!” I shouted to no one in particular. “I go through all this effort to bring my own bags so I don’t have to tote new ones home, and then the bags start coming to me!”

Well, I hadn’t written one of my busy-body e-mails in a while, so last night I sat down to do just that:

Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 00:25:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Beth Terry
Subject: Consumer complaint regarding Comcast promotional door-hanger
To: tracy_baumgartner@cable.comcast.com, Andrew_C_Johnson@cable.comcast.com, corporate_communications@comcast.com

Hello. I am a Comcast cable television customer.

A few days ago, I was dismayed to come home and find a Comcast advertising piece (Ready. Set… Catch the action on Comcast HDTV) hanging from my doorknob in a plastic bag.

Here in Oakland, CA we have recently passed a plastic bag ban, which bans plastic grocery bags from stores. We have done this because we are concerned about waste from plastic bags polluting our streets and waterways, harming marine life, and using non-renewable petroleum resources.

Many of us carry our own reusable bags when we go shopping so that we can avoid having to carry home any new disposable bags at all — paper or plastic. So it is extremely frustrating for us to come home and find a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob that is completely unsolicited and unwanted.

There are those of us who, even though we don’t want the Comcast bag, will find a way to recycle and reuse it so that it doesn’t harm the environment. However, there are unfortunately others who will simply see it as junk and toss it out into the street. We already have enough waste in the streets of Oakland. We don’t need more!

Please help us to cut down the amount of plastic waste in our city by putting an end to the practice of leaving promotional literature in plastic bags. I look forward to your response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Terry
[address and phone number omitted]

————————————-

What do you know? First thing this morning, I got a telephone call from Steve Briones in Comcast Executive Customer Relations. He told me Comcast didn’t realize Oakland had passed a plastic bag ban, said that he would forward my message on to the direct sales and marketing departments, and would make sure they didn’t leave plastic bag doorknob hangers in Oakland anymore.

This is the first time anyone I’ve e-mailed has called me the very next day. (The first time anyone has called me at all.) I am encouraged! However, my excitement is tempered with a healthy wait-and-see dose of skepticism. I’m also concerned that Comcast will continue the practice in areas that do not have plastic bag bans in effect.

If you receive one of these advertising pieces on your doorknob, please don’t hesitate to contact Comcast. The e-mail address is: corporate_communications@comcast.com.

If you want to hand-write a letter, you could mail it to the following people:

D’Arcy Rudnay
Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Jennifer Khoury
Senior Director of Corporate & Consumer Communications
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

So the moral of the story is, we are not powerless. If a company does something that you feel is not in the best interest of the world, don’t be afraid to speak up. Change may be a simple e-mail away. If something pisses you off enough to take action, there are probably hundreds more people who are just as pissed off who won’t.
 



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8 comments
Mr. Reasonably Green
Mr. Reasonably Green

Good for You!My pet peeve is phonebooks and just last week another one was dumped on the sidewalk in front of my place wrapped in a plastic bag. That was a double whammy.

Stretch Mark Mama
Stretch Mark Mama

You know, each time I write (or think about writing) a busy-body letter (LOL), I just laugh and have to wonder at what the Workers in the Breakroom have to say about my "nonsense". But you are right, we really do have an impact. And our collective consumer voice is getting louder, little by little.

heather t
heather t

Sweet! I'm so glad you saw some result.I recently emailed Juicy Juice about their bottle labels. Their bottles are commonly recyclable (and their juice is real 100% juice), so I complimented them on that and told them how much we like the product itself.Then I told them I was concerned about the label because it is plastic (some vinyl-type material) and will not biodegrade. I suggested they could use paper labels or some other biodegradable material. Well, the upshot is that they emailed me back, actually referencing my concern, not a form letter "We appreciate your concern." So that was nice. We'll see if they do anything about it.

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank
Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank

Hey, terrible person! Thanks for mentioning my lack of verticality. Many readers were probably imagining me as America's Next Top Model. But you've put them straight on that one.(Happy Anniversary.)Love,B.

terrible person
terrible person

Hey Sunny:It IS good when the little guy wins, but Beth isn't a guy, and she's VERY sensitive about being called "little", I can tell you from personal experience.But yes, it's great when the slightly-below-average-size female wins!Now, if Comcast could just offer decent service ...

Sunny
Sunny

I am so proud of you. I love it when the little guy wins, even if it's a small victory. I don't get the Oregonian like least footprint but I agree with him that we should be able to get them to quit. Makes me wonder if there is some way I can get others to reduce their use. My co-workers think I'm a goof but I just keep plugging away! The lady at our local grocery store must have asked me five times if I needed a bag - even as I'm putting my purchases into my backpack so I could ride my bike home. She's probably like the guy I saw at Goodwill the other day who purchased a shirt, they put it in a plastic bag for him, and he walked outside straight to the garbage can, pulled the shirt out and put the bag in the garbage can. I went off to my husband and would have to the person had I realized what was happening before he walked away. My husband missed the whole thing! Maybe I am a goof after all. Well, thanks for the blog and recognition that I'm not the only one.

kitty
kitty

That's great! Your letter writing has inspired me to write letters too. I average about one per day on whatever catches my attention. The responses have been lukewarm, but at least it makes them aware that a percentage of consumers are concerned. Great success!

Least Footprint
Least Footprint

My Oregonian lands on my porch every morning, rain or shine, in a plastic bag. Or I should say it used to. I am in the process of moving and took the occasion to not renew the paper. Partly because of the plastic bag issue and partly because I haul a lot of newspaper to the recycle bin and feel a little guilty each time. You have encouraged me now to take on the beast and when I get settled I am going to approach the Oregonian about ending this practice. I can be persistent and perhaps I can find others in Oregon that will want to send letters as well. With a daily circulation of over 380,000 that is millions upon millions of plastic bags that are literally ending up all over the street and I see these bags on the street constantly. Congrats on your success!

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